“Oh man, I love it,” Owen Olichwier said while riding the jump lines on the Fourth of July.
Olichwier is a sponsored BMX rider, but once the park opened in early May he and friends abandoned their usual haunt, the town’s concrete skate park.
“I give it a solid 9 out of 10,” he said. “It’s flowy — much more natural than concrete.”
Jasper Mork, of Cody, loves spending time on the single-track trail through the park and surrounding hills, and on the pump track — a series of dips, rises and berms, that rise and fall to allow more experienced riders the challenge of riding fast and smoothly, and beginner riders to gently ease and feel their way into advanced riding techniques.
“Before this, there wasn’t a great place to go. We’d ride the skate park, but it was crowded and it hurt when you crashed,” Mork said.
The park, which took more than 10 years to plan and build, was put together by the Park County Pedalers. More than 3,300 yards of dirt were brought in to build the park. Now, after a soft opening in May, the club will celebrate the facility’s grand opening Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m.
The celebration features a ribbon cutting by Cody Mayor Matt Hall, jump sessions with local riders, bicycles for demonstration purposes, helmet giveaways by the REACH helicopter crew and other activities. The community is invited, with or without bicycles, to enjoy the festivities. If you have a bicycle, bring it, your helmet and other appropriate safety gear, and test the new park. There will also be beer from Red Lodge Ales and a cash grill featuring brats and burgers.
The park includes 10 miles of track, three massive jump lines for all levels of riders — including ramps as large as 6 feet — and a drop zone, which features a series of multi-level platforms and rises for jumping. It cost about $350,000, all raised by the pedalers, who led the maintainance of the trails by coordinating volunteers. Flow Ride Concepts, an international bike park design company, built the jumplines and pump track. Members of the club did most of the work on the single track trail.
“Unstructured recreation is important and it is becoming a rare thing. Kids don’t do much outdoors unless it is a structured activity like soccer, baseball, or other camps. This bike park and trail system is one step in reversing that trend,” John Gallagher, president of the club, said in a news release.
Gallagher said the facility has been drawing riders “from all over the place.”
James Wells, a 16-year-old who spends a lot of time at the park, didn’t know about the stuggles the club went through to get the trails and skill areas installed, but he thinks they’re awesome.
“It’s a lot better than the sagebrush that was here,” Wells said.
How do you get a 10 rating out of Olichwier, originally from Wisconsin and has been to other bike parks?
“We need another (jump line) that’s even bigger,” said Olichwier, who visits the park four to five times a week. “But this is by far the best one I’ve ever been to.”